New research suggests that a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) score might not be a good determinant of a successful life, but then knowing how to read emotions can improve a person's wellbeing.

Carolyn MacCann from University of Sydney explains that differences between people's Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores explain 25 percent of the difference between people's performance at work, whereas the EQ scores explains only about 3 to 7 percent of work performance difference.

Birth of Emotional Quotient

It was a self-help book called "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ," written by psychologist Daniel Goleman, that kicked off the trend of people being judged by their ability to cope with emotions rather than intelligence alone.

EQ as a concept grew in popularity and soon found its way to the Oprah show and the cover of TIME magazine. But there were a few who doubted the way in which the EQ of a person was tested. Even in the year 1999, there were very few studies that tested the validity of the claims made by people who supported EQ.

One of the reasons why EQ became so popular, despite lack of scientific explanation, was that earlier it was all about how intelligent a person was. Cognitive intelligence or IQ not only determined how successful a person's career would be but also how long the person would live, their health, marriage, divorce and whether or not they would end up in a prison.

A book called "The Bell Curve," launched in the U.S. in 1994, explained why people of different races scored differently on IQ tests. It proposed that race determined the IQ score of a person. Thus, the concept of EQ, telling people that they were better equipped to succeed if they could understand emotions well, was received with much enthusiasm.

The sudden interest in EQ gave rise to tests that were randomly picked up by Human Resource management teams to test the employability of a person. There was also a lack of communication among research teams studying emotional intelligence.

MacCann says there are a lot of untested products that measure EQ at work and which may not predict a successful career.

MacCann argues that EQ explains a trivial difference of just 3 to 7 percent of work efficiency that could be met by putting in just three or four weeks of extra work per year.

But there are people who succeed, despite a low or average IQ. Researchers explain this happens because people who are emotionally intelligent tend to manage negative emotions better.